Girl Genius Vol. 6

By | Monday, August 20, 2007 Leave a Comment
I just finished going through the sixth TPB volume of Girl Genius stories from the talented folks over at Studio Foglio.

The Girl Genius story has earned some notoriety, in part, because of the method the Foglios have taken with its publication. Although a traditional pamphlet comic originally, they took to posting one page at a time on the web, making it available for free. Then they periodically collect those stories into bound trade paperbacks for publication. Most of their income, as I understand it, is actually from the sale of ancillary product materials on their site and not from the comic itself.

Now, for me, personally, I don't particularly care for reading Girl Genius online. They format the pages as if they were being readied for publication, and the format doesn't translate very well to the computer monitor in my opinion. With this story, I'm content with "waiting for the trade" since there is no pamphlet format with which my money might otherwise go towards.

The story in this volume continues Agatha's adventures as she's being sought after by all sorts of seemingly evil folks for all manner of reasons, not the least of which is Lucrezia Mongfish who, in the last volume, took control of Agatha's body. Agatha's friends, to no surprise, are on a rescue mission to save her and Baron Klaus Wulfenbach is trying stop Agatha/Lucrezia. By the end of this volume, Lucrezia's been waylaid, Agatha and her friends have escaped, and Klaus is left trying to rein in some control over the chaos unleashed on the castle.

This is another reason why I prefer the TPB version over the online version. There is just a whole lot going on to try to keep track of on only an every-other-day basis. There are easily a couple dozen characters to keep track of, further made difficult by Lucrezia occupying Agatha's body periodically, further made difficult by Lucrezia pretending to be Agatha on occasion. I shudder to think how readers were able to keep that straight over the course of weeks and months that the story evolved online. Not that Phil and Kaja do a bad job of keeping that straight for the purposes of the story, but the elongated timeframe the online version takes prevents one from really keeping the story top of mind for the story's full run. (At least, that's my opinion. Maybe I've just got too many other things running through my head and others have no problems with it.)

Not surprisingly, Phil and Kaja deliver the type of story one comes to expect from them: good storytelling, sharp dialogue, and an excellent blend of action, adventure and comedy. I was especially impressed with how in tune they must be with one another to deliver verbal gags and jokes with an impeccable sense of visual timing. This is showcased even further as one realizes that, the pages having been drawn originally for their online format, almost every page works fairly well standing on its own, often ending with a joke in the last panel. I think Phil and Kaja have ramped up their game considerably in going to their online format, and it is highlighted very well here in the TPB.

I also very much like the package itself. Volume five, I thought, felt a bit... well, cheap. The cover was kind of flimsy and protected with an ungraceful laminatation. The spine glue, too, seemed ready to fall apart and I was concerned I wouldn't be able to read the whole book without it coming to pieces in my hands. Those issues were entirely addressed with volume six, which comes across as a much sturdier and more handsome package.

I'm inclined to recommend buying Girl Genius in the trade paperback form. It's definitely a great read, and you'll be sending some cash to some very talented folks. If you can't afford the extra $21.95, you should still swing by their web site to read the regular updates. Because it's still a darn fine story and well worth your time!
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